The annual report from the regulator shows that private electricity production reached a peak over the past year, with private companies now producing a fifth of the country's electricity.
Gjergj Erebara, BIRN, Tirana
New small hydropower plants and the privatization of several medium-sized hydropower plants have increased private sector electricity production in Albania to almost a fifth of total production, a report by the Energy Regulatory Agency for 2014 shows.
It says the private electricity production market in Albania is now worth 8.1 billion leks (about 58 million euros).
During 2014 alone, 13 new private hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 37 MW were connected to the grid, adding to 38 megawatt/hours to national production.
Private production of electricity in Albania started in 2000 when dozens of small hydropower plants, mainly built during the Communist era, were privatized.
The market grew fast after 2008, when the government signed hundreds of concession agreements to build new HPPs under the promise of long-term purchasing agreements.
“About 98 private HPPs are currently producing electricity in Albania with a total installed capacity of 294 MW,” the regulatory authority report said.
Ashta hydropower plant, an Austrian downstream plant built over the Drini River in northern Albania, is currently the biggest producer. This 50 MW plant produced about 200 GWh during 2014.
Dozens of other private hydropower plants are under construction and are expected to join the grid over the next few years.
Devoll Hydropower project is the biggest under construction. It should be completed by 2019.
Albania has still plenty of other rivers that could be used for electricity production, but this lucrative business has also caused concerns about potential damage to the environment.